How long can you freeze ground turkey?

In this article, we will answer the question “How long can you freeze ground turkey?”, and how to safely thaw a frozen turkey?

Read on if you want to know how to identify bad turkey. This article also includes a brief guide on how to successfully freeze turkey. 

How long can you freeze ground turkey?

Frozen ground turkey lasts indefinitely if stored at a steady temperature of 0°F. However, it is recommended to use it within 3-4 months for the best quality. 

Raw turkey breast can be kept in the freezer for up to a year but remains safe beyond that if kept at a steady temperature of 0℉. 

Whole turkeys can stay fresh for up to a year in the freezer. Wings and drumsticks have a shorter shelf-life i.3 9 months. Ground turkey will only last 3-4 months.

Cooked turkey breast can be kept in the fridge for upto 3 days If it was refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking and was not kept at the temperatures between 40℉-140℉ beyond 2 hours. 

How to freeze a turkey?


Do not take the turkey out of its original packaging. It protects the turkey against bacteria and other contaminants. Before buying the turkey, check for the integrity of the packaging. Do not buy a turkey with leaky or damaged packaging.

If the packaging is not available, pack the turkey in aluminum or plastic wrap. Put it in an air-tight bag and chuck it in the freezer. Your best bet is to use a vacuum-sealed bag for this purpose. If not available, just take a large garbage bag and squeeze the air out of it.


Turkey must be frozen below a consistent temperature of 0℉. Freezing temperatures preserve the turkey’s freshness so that you can keep it around for longer.

Freezing pre-stuffed turkey 

Frozen pre-stuffed turkeys must be frozen If they are not to be used immediately. They do not require to be thawed. You can remove it directly out of the freezer and put it in the oven for baking.

How to store ground turkey in the freezer?

Raw ground turkey should be frozen within 2 days of its purchase. The quality of the ground meat will deteriorate over time. 

Hence frozen ground turkey is best used within 3-4 months. If the ground turkey is still in its original packaging, wrap it with foil and toss it in a freezer bag. That’s it. 

Thawed ground turkey can be kept in the fridge for only 1-2 days. This only applies if the ground turkey was thawed overnight in the fridge. Ground turkey thawed by quick methods, such as in the microwave or under tap/cold water, should be cooked immediately after thawing. 

How to tell If the ground turkey has gone bad?

If the ground turkey develops grey or green colored patches or spots over the surface, it has gone bad. 

Bad turkey meat feels slimy upon touching due to microbial growth. Spoiled ground turkey gives off a sharp rotten smell that can’t go unnoticed so you will know when the meat is bad. 

How to thaw a frozen turkey?

In the fridge 

Thawing your turkey is the safest way to do it. However, this requires some prior planning so that you can pop the turkey in the fridge. 

All you have to do is place the sealed turkey onto a dish to catch the drippings and stick it in the fridge for 1-2 days. Turkey that is thawed in the fridge can be refrozen but the quality won’t be the same.

Weight Thawing time (allow 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds)
4-12 lb.1-3 days 
12-16 lb.3-4 days 
16-20 lb4-5 days 
20-24 lb.5-6 days 

In the microwave 

Turn on the defrost setting of your microwave and read the manual for thawing time. Remove the packaging before microwaving. Place the turkey on a microwave-safe dish and pop it in the oven. Cook the thawed turkey right away and do not refreeze. 

In the cold water 

Submerge the turkey in a bowl of cold water while it is secured in its leak-proof and tightly sealed packaging. Change the water after every 30 minutes. Cook the thawed turkey right away and do not refreeze. 

Weight Thawing time  (allow 30 minutes per pound)
4-12 lb.2-6 hours
12-16 lb.6-8 hours 
16-20 lb8-10 hours
20-24 lb.10-12 hours


In this article, we answered the question “How long can you freeze ground turkey?”, and how to safely thaw a frozen turkey?


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.